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May 21, 2002

As the Gamecock Track and Field Team prepares to compete at the NCAA Championships, sat down with Mechelle Lewis of the South Carolina Women’s Track and Field Team in a quick Question and Answer Session. What is the best part about the University of South Carolina?

ML: The fan support and the overall support is probably the best aspect of USC. Everyone supports each other. People you don’t know, as long as you are a Gamecock, they welcome you. What is you most memorable track and field moment?

ML: When I became individual All-American, that was great. When I made the finals, I thought to myself “I want to be an All-American!” and it feels a lot better when you do it yourself. When you make All-American in a relay, there are still three other people that were a part of it, but when you do it individually, you know that it is all because of you and the hard work that you have put in. When I crossed that line and became an individual All-American, I knew I’d never forget that. What is your favorite sport other than track and field?

ML: Basketball. I played basketball until 10th grade and that’s when I started running track. I thought that I’d be here, or somewhere else, playing basketball, not running track. Basketball is my favorite outside of track and field. What do you like best about the coaches at USC?

ML: They won’t let you give up. Even if you’re not doing as well as you think you should be, they stay on you and make you keeping to work harder and harder. The support they give is great. What do you like to do around Columbia if you have an afternoon off?

ML: Columbia? Well, I’m from Maryland and coming from a big city to, well, a more settled place, it’s a different atmosphere. In Columbia, I’d have to say that I enjoy going out to dinner with friends and having fun at an Applebee’s or similar place like that. What do you do to prepare for each meet?

ML: I really don’t have a ritual, but I do have a thought process. I think about what I have to do and what I am going to do and I see it before I go out there and do it. Hopefully it will turn out the way that I picture it. What was your favorite vacation spot as a kid?

ML: Well, I know this might sound clich?, but I’d have to say Disney World (she says laughing). Disney World is the most memorable and I still have pictures of me there. You’ve spent four years running track and keeping up some of the top grades on the team. How difficult has that been?

ML: Well, to me it hasn’t been that hard. Personally, I look at myself as a determined person and it is a challenge to be a student-athlete. More times than not you see people who are better students or better athletes, but when I came here, I wanted to prove that you could be balanced and be good at both. You don’t have to excel in one more than the other. I wanted to prove to people that you can be good at track and in the classroom. What advice would you give to incoming track members?

ML: Just don’t give up. If you look at yourself once you get to college and you thought you were so good in high school and you think you are terrible in college, there could be some hard days. Just don’t give up – have determination. Remember to believe in yourself. What was it like winning the SEC Championships?

ML: It was like Waiting to Exhale. We were a good team and it just hadn’t been clicking this year, but at that one moment, it all came together. It was like a big release. What do you think the team has to do to win the NCAA Championships?

ML: The same thing we did at SECs. Do what you are supposed to do, do what you know you are capable of doing, and just go out there and put your heart into it.